Wilton Legion team sitting pretty after six wins
Amid the stifling heat, seven games in seven days. Yet the summer's hottest, most humid stretch of weather seemed to agree with the Wilton Post 86 Senior American Legion baseball team, as the club rattled off six straight wins before losing, 6-1, to Stamford Post 3 Tuesday night at Cubeta Stadium in Stamford.
The victory spurt raised Wilton’s record to 13-6 and moved them deeper into Zone 4 playoff contention. With eight games remaining, Wilton Post 86 is now in fourth place, two and a-half games behind Zone leader Greenwich Post 3 and three and a-half games ahead of fifth-place Westport. The top five Zone 4 finishers move on to post-season play.
After a disappointing 1-0 defeat against Easton-Redding Post 160, Wilton sandwiched two wins around the Fourth of July: a 5-2 triumph versus Westport on Wednesday and a 13-0 thumping of Darien-New Canaan on Friday.
Post 86 returned to its home field to face Norwalk Post 12 on a sweltering Saturday morning. The baseball diamond, wrapped in sticky oppressive heat, could not escape a searing, eyeball-draining sun. Naturally, the teams had to play extra innings, with Post 86 winning the game, 3-2, with a run in the bottom of the eighth.
Jordon Prince, in relief of starter Trevor Blond, got the win by pitching three scoreless innings, yielding no hits, striking out five and walking three. Norwalk got only four hits, but eight walks constantly put Wilton in jeopardy.
Each team scored two runs in the second. Post 12 parlayed a pair of hits, two wild pitches and two passed balls into its tallies. Wilton Post 86 countered with a double by Zach Ellenthal, a single by Connor Buhler, and Andrew Jacobson's two-run triple.
It was Buhler fueling the winning rally, leading off the home eighth with a resounding double to right center. It didn't take long as a single through the left side brought him in.
The next day's home doubleheader against Fairfield Post 143 tested everybody's mettle as the stupefying heat returned stronger and longer. Even the infield dirt got a little soggy, moisturized as it was by human sweat.
Despite the sauna, Post 86 came up with complete-game performances by both of its starters. First, Andrew Jacobson (4-2) hurled a four-hitter, giving up a run on four hits, striking out six and walking just one. The only run he allowed came on a pair of bloop singles and a stolen base in the second.
Still, Post 86 could do nothing until its final at-bat. Will Bruschi led off the seventh inning by getting hit with a pitch. Buhler got on via an error and Andrew Jacobson's RBI single tied the game at 1-1. With two outs, Wilton went in for the kill as Ben Rappaport singled home Buhler with the game-winner in the 2-1 victory.
The second game, though tightly contested, did not need final at-bat heroics. JT Morin (2-1) saw to that. He pitched brilliantly, giving up no runs on three hits, striking out eight and walking but one. He got air-tight support from an errorless defense and enough runs from an opportunistic offense to clinch a 3-0 victory.
Wilton got its first run in the third inning. Two-out singles by Bob Wyman and Sean Osgood put runners at the corners and then both worked a delayed steal of home perfectly, with Wyman scampering across with the first run of the game.
An infield error put Osgood at first to lead off the sixth. He stole second and with one out and scored on Bruschi's base hit to center. A wild pitch and Buhler's single brought Bruschi home and sealed the Post 86 win.
On Monday, the effects of the heat and some attrition began to show. Against visiting Darien, Post 86 again resorted to its last at-bat, pulling out a 5-4 win. Despite five errors and a balk, Wilton prevailed, making plays when it had to, including two double plays.
Prince battled through six innings in a gritty mound performance that yielded him a no-decision. Rappaport (5-2) pitched a scoreless inning of relief to pick up the win.
The winning run tallied when Ellenthal worked out a walk to open the Post 86 seventh. Bruschi's line single to center moved the runner to second and then Buhler flied out to deep center. But Andrew Jacobson slashed a single to left and pinch-runner Ethan Segall scored.
Tuesday evening, Segall took the mound as Post 86 traveled to Cubeta Stadium to play Stamford Post 3 (15-4). Through four innings, it was a 2-1 ball game, with Wilton having scratched out what would be its only run in the second inning. A base hit by James Meany and a sacrifice and a wild pitch that brought Meany home accounted for the sole run.
The turning point came in the Stamford fifth when Kevin Stone pounded a two-run triple well over centerfielder Bruschi's head. Stone then stole second and scored on a base hit to left.
“I thought I made a pretty good pitch, a low change-up,” said Segall. “He golfed it all the way out there.”
Blond pitched the sixth inning, giving up an unearned run. But this night belonged to Stamford Post 3 starter Luke Dawson (2-0), who remained in command throughout the game.